Published: 14:10, 21 January 2020
| Updated: 09:08, 30 January 2020
Engineers working on a major landslip which left train tracks dangling in mid-air are drafting in 40,000 tonnes of stone - the weight of almost 100 Jumbo Jets - from the other side of the country to try and fix the problem by March.
Network Rail reveals scale of rebuild job
A train driver first noticed the track starting to dip on a 12-metre-high embankment that carries the railway over the Eden Valley on December 22.
It came as a result of the area receiving a month's worth of rainfall in a week, on already saturated ground, which also sparked flooding in other parts of the county.
Staff from Network Rail and contractor BAM Nuttall have since been working around the clock to resolve the issue, described as one of the largest the south east has faced in years.
To get access to the slip, engineers have built a road across a field and cut a section of the embankment out, while building a temporary bridge to carry vital cables over the gap.
Soon, around 40 trains will bring the huge quantities of recycled railway ballast to site, as the local roads are too narrow to allow lorries access.
While that work is going on, Network Rail is planning to reinforce the longer, 400m section of railway that crosses the Eden Valley at this location, to stop any future slips.
This work will continue without affecting trains, bosses insist.
Network Rail Route Director for Kent, Fiona Taylor, said: “This landslip is a serious challenge for us, not just because of the scale of the slide but also the remoteness of the location.
"To give you some idea of the size of the slip, we are having to bring 40,000 tonnes of stone in from as far away as Carlisle to build the bank back up again and we’ve had to cut through the remaining part of the railway just to gain access to it.
“Our passengers have been very patient with us and we are doing everything we can to speed this project along and working 24/7 to get the railway open.
"Once we have an exact date we will let everyone know and if we can achieve that earlier than the end of March then we will.”
Southern’s Customer Services Director Chris Fowler added: “We really appreciate our passengers’ patience while this section of railway is rebuilt.
"Everyone is working together to keep passengers moving with replacement services and alternative travel options, including ticket acceptance on other lines and at other car parks.
"We welcome the good news that Network Rail has been able to start this challenging repair, allowing the line to reopen as soon as is safely possible, and we will support them in keeping you updated regularly on progress.”
In the absence of the regular journeys, buses replace trains between Redhill and Edenbridge and a weekday train service runs between Edenbridge and Tonbridge.
A replacement bus is used over the full line on weekends.
Tonbridge route closed after catastrophic landslip
More by this authorTom Pyman